Arizonans have the great fortune of mostly great weather from September (fine…October) through May. Summer gets a little on the hot side, but air conditioning takes the edge off.
On Saturday, my son and I went trail riding with a buddy and his son. For just over an hour we biked around the North Mountain trail system, had a blast in perfect weather, and began planning the next outing.
I drove away thinking about how much I despise exercise bikes but love getting outside and doing an activity with my son and our friends. I also recalled how much fun I had a few summers ago at Core CrossFit where I did a two month stint with some great people and really improved my physical and mental health. I thought about how my son loves to be thrown in the pool and how much exercise I get launching him and his buddies into the deep end.
Why do I mention all this? Because I suspect, like me, you struggle to find time to train, to lift, to play a pick-up game of basketball or anything.
But, if Mark is right, we can figure out ways to play with our kids and train at the same time. Maybe we just play a little harder…put our bikes a lower gear…make a game out of throwing those 40-80 pound weights into the deep end and consciously creating a full-body workout.
- Build play time into your routine. Assuming you raise your kids alone, and assuming they are on the younger side, it goes without saying you should not sneak out before they get up to go to the gym. Maybe you have the flexibility to stop by the gym after work and before you pick your kids up from their daycare/after-school program. If not, set aside time two or three times per week to play with them – you can play harder than them to both work up a sweat and strengthen your relationship with them.
- Use kettlebells at home. I love my kettlebells. My son used to call them kettleballs and I’m just immature enough to laugh just thinking about it. They do not take up much room and you can get a great workout. My chiropractor recommend them to me years ago and I got hooked. You can find them at just about any sporting goods store, but I recommend you get them from the master – Pavel Tsatsouline (I have no .
I had the chance to attend a seminar by Pavel several years ago, and he’s the real deal. His most recent book, by far my favorite, lays out a simple and straightforward way to train efficiently and effectively. Note: if you have never used kettlebells, please find someone in your area trained in the proper use and go get a one-on-one lesson or attend a class. If you do not have access to that or do not want to spend a ton of money, check out Steve Cotter’s excellent DVD – he gives about the best training on proper form you could get from a video.
- Use bodyweight exercises at home. You cannot beat the cost of doing bodyweight exercises at home. And you can do them when you only have a few minutes to allocate toward exercise. Push ups. Pull ups. Lunges. Squats. Simple. While this guide can be a little over-the-top in terms of the back story, Convict Conditioning provides a great road map for an effective, measured approach to bodyweight exercises.
- MovNat. In 2010, I attended a MovNat workshop in Phoenix. I, along with about 20 others, spent the day at a park balancing on benches, shimmying up playground equipment, crawling in the grass, learning how to tumble, and generally having an awesome time. Our instructor was Clifton Harski who kept us in stitches and taught the fundamentals of movement, balance, and having a great time. My classmates were gym owners, fitness enthusiasts, and people far more flexible and strong than me. If you sign up for MovNat’s newsletter, you get a weekly email with a type of movement to incorporate into your training – things like climbing techniques, balancing, jumping, throwing. You could take one of the weekly suggestions and do them with your kids on your play/fitness days.
I struggle to do all of this. I often want to just sit down and rest. But I feel better when I move. I feel better when I get dirty. I feel better when I can laugh with my son out on a trail. I feel better knowing I am modeling healthy activity for him.
What is your favorite “fitness” activity with your kids? What activity would you like to try?